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Young people’s summit announced at Co-op Congress

News item

25th June 2021
Last updated
12th July 2022
Co-op development
Tommy Kirkwood

A young people’s summit on co‑operation will be held in the autumn to explore how we can better engage young people in co‑ops.

The announcement was made at Co-op Congress today (25 June 2021).

Speaking as part of a panel on youth engagement, Maria Cearns, Managing Director Customer and People at the Co-operative Bank said, “I am delighted to announce today that The Co-operative Bank is going to fund work with Co-operatives UK and The Co-op Foundation to engage young people in co-ops. Together, we will be calling a national Youth Summit on Co-operation”.

The summit will take place in the autumn and will be hosted as a hybrid event, so delegates can attend in person or online. This will ensure as many young people as possible can take part.

Working with the Co-op Foundation, the Co-op College and the Young Co-operators Network Co-operatives UK will host a day of workshops and panels to explore what the challenges are - and most importantly, where are the opportunities?

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Young people want a career where they can have a stake in it, where they can have a say in what goes on in the company, and that happens far more often in co-ops than it does in traditional businesses.
– Simin Wadiwala from the Young Co-operators Network

“I really want to inspire and support other young people like me, not just with the very basics of how to set up a co-op or the ongoing financial and legal stuff – but also showing that an alternative is possible.” adds Simin.

Co-operatives UK CEO, Rose Marley said: ““It’s essential that we reach and inspire the next generation to ensure a fair and more equitable future for us all. We know that Gen Z have strong ethical views and want to be in control of their careers, which chime with co-op way of doing business, but it's not a well known business model and there are also challenges in getting involved – and that’s what we are going to explore at the summit.”

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“Young people from all backgrounds, whether you are a member of a co-op or not, and groups who work with young people are all welcome. We want to hear from you!”
– Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

She adds, “It’s been a brilliant way to end Co-op Congress 2021 with a commitment to invest in our young people.”

The announcement was made during a panel discussion which included young people from youth-led travel scheme Our Pass, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and introduced by Co-op Group CEO Steve Murrells.

Nick Crofts, Co-op Foundation CEO, said: “Co-op Foundation funding has already helped thousands of young people to develop new skills, build relationships and develop a deeper sense of community. Our new partnership will allow us to go one step further by empowering more young people to benefit from being part of a co-op. By joining a co-op, young people are well placed to make their views heard and influence a more equitable recovery for the UK, during and after Covid.”

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At The Co-operative Bank we are committed to co-operative values and ethics – they are at the heart our strategy and we completely understand the importance of supporting the co-operative sector, not because it’s the right thing to do.
– Maria Cearns, Managing Director Customer and People, The Co-operative Bank

"Because a resilient and thriving co-operative sector contributes to the success of a strong UK economy and benefits wider society. This is why engaging with our young people now – the future co-operators - is so important.”

More details about the Youth Summit will be announced in September, and in the meantime sign up to our newsletter to be kept informed about this work with young people.

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